Science is my engine of wonder

In response to something seen on tumblr:

This makes me sad in so many ways. I’m a geologist, and that science has done more to introduce me to the grandeur of the world than nearly anything else – and perhaps oddly, to make me feel more connected to the rest of humanity.

I always feel weird quoting myself, but I’ll do it anyway because I don’t think I can come up with better words at the moment. In the wake of the Sendai earthquake, I wrote this:

The Earth is so very, very old, and so very, very vast. We are tiny, and frail, and even the longest life any one of us can hope to have is less than the blink of an eye in the history of our planet. The Earth does not care about us. We have no special significance. We have only each other.

We are all just engines that run on chemical reactions. Our thoughts are just electrical impulses. We are all just made of the same atoms has gravel and slugs, heavy elements that were made in the heart of a dying star an unimaginable stretch of time ago. Maybe it’s easy to get lost in the dry minutiae of it, but step back and consider those things for one moment. We are all mindlessly simple and at the same time breathtakingly complex. Everything is connected on the most fundamental of levels.

I can walk to the top of a lithified dune and know that dinosaurs once walked there; and know the incomprehensible length of time over which the dune was built, sand grain by sand grain by the wind; and know that even today more dunes are being built and insects and mice and humans walk across them and some day, someone else might see those dunes as rocks and wonder who we all were and how we lived; and know that quatz is made of a framework of silica and oxygen made more beautiful by the intrusive imperfections of other atoms; and know those atoms came from deep within the Earth but before then came from the death of a star, and before that and before that…

(and maybe this is why I have never felt the need for religion)

I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy. I write both. And I know my art will never be perfect until I can fully express the overwhelming wonder that fills me every time I consider this fundamental fact: I am just like a badger, like a banana, like a diamond that was ejected from Archean basement rock in a fountain of magma traveling at approximately the speed of sound, and I can dance and dream and love.

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